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Prev Chronic Dis. 2008 Apr;5(2):A40. Epub 2008 Mar 15.

A comparative case study on active transport to and from school.

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  • 1American Planning Association, 1776 Massachusetts Ave, NW, Washington, DC 20036, USA.



This study investigates active-transport-to-school initiatives through the Active Living by Design Community Action Model framework. The framework outlines five strategies that influence physical activity: preparation, promotion, programs, policies, and physical projects.


A comparative case study was conducted to investigate active-transport-to-school initiatives at two North Carolina schools. A group of key stakeholders from each site was interviewed (N = 16), including principals, physical education teachers, public safety officers, city planners, regional transportation planners, city council members, and parent representatives. Content analysis was carried out using NVivo software, and data were evaluated using the framework.


Applications designed around all five strategies positively influenced active-transport-to-school programs. Both schools used similar strategies including promotional tactics, policies, and physical projects; however, only one used all five strategies. The scope and duration of these strategies varied by school and ultimately seemed to influence their success. Enablers and challenges to active-transport-to-school programs were identified, including funding, school location, available infrastructure, community involvement, school support, parental buy-in, and sufficient program promotion.


The quality of the strategies, not their mere presence or use, proved important in active-transport-to-school programs. These results suggest that a multidisciplinary approach that develops promotional materials, resources, school support, and environmental changes to sustain factors that influence parental buy-in will prove critical to the success of future walk-to-school initiatives.

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